On loss

This was another one of those weeks, to cap a year full of them. The school district my children attended is not especially large, and the village that contains the high school & middle school (with the school board housed in between the two), is also small. And the community is close. Since the start of 2018, the school community had coped with the tragic loss of an administrator and several support staff members – mostly in the high school. In May, one of the seniors died in a car accident. Earlier this month, an incoming freshman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was only 13. This past weekend a long-term guidance counselor, and the director of the high school’s drama program, died suddenly in a “4 Weddings & A Funeral” way – cardiac arrest while dancing at a wedding. She was a mother. And a cancer survivor. And the same age as my younger brother. She was the guidance counselor for several of our exchange students over the years. My younger daughter, because of her involvement in the theatre program, knew her well. Her husband is a musician that my daughter has known since elementary school. Today was the wake, and it was overwhelming. And very crowded. And heartbreaking. For us, my daughter and I, this will pass relatively easily – next weekend she moves into her college dorm, and other things gain prominence for her. My involvement with the school system has reached its end. For the family, however, and even for the returning high-schoolers, the loss will endure, and it is for them that I share, once again,  what is easily my favorite description of what the disorientation of loss feels like:

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” — Lemony Snicket, “Horseradish“

Photo courtesy of nasa.gov

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4 thoughts on “On loss”

  1. When I came across that one a couple of years ago, I was awed by how he’d nailed it. I know of many philosophical quotes on loss, but nothing that so clearly describes it. I’ve borrowed it more than once.

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